Mastering the Art of the Cold Open: Engaging B2B Audiences from the Get-Go


By Sheena McKinney, Business Operations & Marketing Assistant at Heinz Marketing

In the world of B2B sales and marketing, first impressions matter more than ever. With the ever-increasing competition for your audience’s attention, the art of the “cold open” has become a powerful tool to capture your prospect’s interest from the very beginning. Just as a captivating opening scene sets the tone for a great movie, a well-crafted cold open can set the stage for a successful B2B conversation, email, blog post, or any other form of communication.

Ann Handley, renowned marketer and Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, recently talked about the cold open in her every-two-weeks Sunday newsletter called ANNARCHY (highly recommend).  She’s known to say:

“In the digital age, the cold open is your golden opportunity to engage your audience immediately and keep them invested in what you have to say.”

Let’s dive into the principles and strategies behind the art of the cold open in B2B communication.

Understanding the Cold Open

A cold open is an attention-grabbing opening statement or hook designed to intrigue, captivate, and pique your audience’s interest. Unlike a warm introduction, where you may already have an established connection with your audience, a cold open is used when you’re approaching someone new or when you need to re-engage a dormant lead.

As Handley suggests, “Think of the cold open as your ‘elevator pitch’ for the digital age. You have a limited amount of time to make an impression, so make it count.”

The Power of Relevance

One of the key principles of a successful cold open is relevance. Handley emphasizes the importance of understanding your audience’s pain points, needs, and interests. She notes, “Your cold open should demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and that what you’re about to say matters to them.”

Whether it’s a reference to a recent industry trend, a problem-solving approach, or a shared experience, the more relevant your opening is to your audience, the more likely they are to engage with your content.

Provoking Curiosity

A cold open should ignite curiosity in your audience. Handley advises, “Leave your audience with a question or a sense of intrigue that compels them to keep reading, listening, or engaging.” This curiosity gap can be created by teasing a surprising statistic, sharing a thought-provoking quote, or presenting a surprising anecdote.

Personalization and Connection

In B2B communication, personalization is a potent tool. Handley reminds us, “People connect with people, not faceless organizations. Use your cold open to humanize your message.” Address your audience by their name, mention a mutual connection, or highlight a common experience to establish a personal connection right from the start.

Storytelling as a Cold Open Technique

Storytelling is a tried-and-true method for engaging B2B audiences. Ann Handley believes that “A compelling story can be one of the most effective cold opens.” Start with a relatable story that embodies the problem your audience faces or the solution you’re about to provide. Stories create an emotional connection that makes your message more memorable.

Testing and Iteration

Crafting a perfect cold open may take some experimentation. Handley recommends A/B testing different approaches to see what resonates best with your audience. She explains, “The key is to be open to feedback and adapt your cold opens based on what works best for your specific audience.


In the fast-paced world of B2B sales and marketing, mastering the art of the cold open is essential to capture and retain your audience’s attention. As Ann advises, remember that your cold open is your golden opportunity to engage your audience immediately, and it can make or break your communication efforts. By focusing on relevance, curiosity, personalization, storytelling, and continuous improvement, you can craft compelling cold opens that leave a lasting impression and drive meaningful connections in the world of B2B.